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Partnering for Healthier Communities: Coca-Cola Announces Global Commitments to Fight Obesity, Supports Programs in Georgia and Atlanta

By:  Jay Moye May 8, 2013
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Muhtar Kent, chairman and CEO of Coca-Cola, joined by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent, joined by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (left) and City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, today announced the company’s commitments to fight obesity locally and around the world.

Coca-Cola celebrated its 127th birthday today by announcing four global commitments to tackle the complex societal issue of obesity.

Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent presented the commitments to contribute to healthier, happier and more active communities during a press event at the World of Coca-Cola in downtown Atlanta, not far from where the first Coca-Cola was served on this date in 1886. He was joined by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed to kick off a series of programs to help get Georgians moving.

“As the world’s leading beverage system, we believe we have a role to play in helping create solutions,” Kent said. “For us, this is an evolution, not a revolution... an elevation, not a revelation. This is the next step in our ongoing journey.”

These commitments, which apply to the more than 200 countries where Coca-Cola operates, are to: 1) Offer low- or no- calorie beverage options in every market; 2) Provide transparent nutrition information, featuring calories on the front of all beverage packages; 3) Help get people moving by supporting physical activity programs in every country where it does business; and 4) Market responsibly, including no advertising to children under 12 anywhere in the world.

Kent highlighted many steps Coca-Cola has already taken in these areas. For example, nearly 25 percent of the company’s more than 3,500 beverages is low- or no-calorie, and 41 percent of the trademark Coke enjoyed in the U.S. today has zero calories – up from 1 percent in 1982 and 32 percent in 1999. Check out this infographic for more examples.

Coca-Cola will measure the scale and progress of these efforts on comingtogether.com, which details the four commitments and related programs, and provides a platform for feedback and dialogue on how to collectively promote choice, energy balance and movement.

“Think of this as an invitation to come and partner,” Kent added. “We don't have all the answers... this will only be solved by closer collaboration between business, government and civil society.”

Success Starts at Home

To help people in Coke's own backyard lead healthier lives, The Coca-Cola Foundation pledged nearly $4 million to organizations across the company’s hometown and home state to provide increased access to community physical activity and nutrition education programs.

The funds will support two statewide programs: Georgia SHAPE, Governor Deal’s drive to reduce childhood obesity by promoting physical activity starting in elementary schools, and the University of Georgia’s Walk Georgia initiative. A $1 million pledge will enable Georgia SHAPE to train teachers and other education professionals on how to lead physical activities and provide nutrition education. Another $1 million pledge will support the expansion of Walk Georgia, which makes physical activity more engaging and fun.

Governor Deal said these funds "will go a long way toward helping us and improving the lives of children in our state." In Atlanta, the foundation will provide a $1 million grant to the Centers of Hope program, which brings physical activity, leadership development, nutrition education and academic enrichment to almost 2,000 young people. "I’m here this morning happily, but also gratefully, because we have a global champion like Muhtar Kent and a company like Coca-Cola that understands what it means to be a leading corporate citizen... not only in Atlanta and in Georgia, but in the world,” Mayor Reed said.

These public-private partnerships will serve as best-practice examples other cities and states can learn from and potentially scale, Kent said.

“What we’re doing is welcoming everyone to come together in this important conversation,” he continued. “Ultimately, we know that, together, we can make a difference. We can improve awareness for energy balance and begin to build a healthier future for people across our state and all around the world.”